Princess

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{It’s a good thing I love her more than she loves this dress; I’ve lost count of the number of times I have mended it!}

Our self-proclaimed Sugarplum Flower Fairy Ballerina Princess (I’m not convinced I got it all in there or the order correct) is turning four.
I think she liked dressing up previously, but her cousin’s princess dress-up clothes just solidified her love for all things fancy. I always identified more with Caddie Woodlawn and Laura Ingalls, scorning Disney Princesses and Jane Austen (though I do enjoy watching period dramas with friends).
So I wasn’t sure what to do. I felt like some of my scorn for Disney Princesses was legitimate and theological, but wanted to do some more digging.

I’m not giving our exact conclusions here, but will link to the top three reads and say that we won’t flip out if our daughters watch a Disney Princess movie, but that we won’t put that material in front of them. And instead of getting her the usual princess dresses I made her one based on this for her birthday this year (using leftover fabric from my bridesmaid dress when I was in my sister’s wedding!).

But none of that changes that our sugarplum flower fairy ballerina princess requires fancy books: here are some alternatives that S has approved.

*Fancy Nancy (some of these are better than others. The first one is our favorite).
*The True Princess (Angela Hunt)
*Saint George and the Dragon
*The Kitchen Knight (both by Margaret Hodges, illustrated by Trina Hyman)
*The Complete Book of Flower Fairies
*Narnia
*George MacDonald’s stories
(Also: The Ordinary Princess, The Plain Princess, and ethnic versions of Cinderella [usually, but not always, better, like the native American version in the Children’s Book of Virtues])

And best of all, books about REAL “fancy people” –
*Queen Elizabeth II
*Just Being Audrey (Cardillo, Audrey Hepburn)
*Jeanne D’Albret (we own this one, and while there are some things I don’t love about it it’s vastly better than Disney!)
*Esther

Or just people worth emulating. We don’t have either of these yet, but are interested in Lily: The Girl Who Could See (Oxley, about Lilias Trotter), and Katherine von Bora: The Morning Star of Wittenberg (Strackbein).

Little Book Big Story on Princesses
A Personal Survey of Fairy Tales
Disney Princesses: My Daughter Deserves Better
These articles come at it from various angles, not just for and not just against. It’s also important to remember that while the messages of media affect children, so does the overall culture and message of the home.

What are your favorite princess stories?

Instathoughts 2.0

{snippets from Instagram or shorter thoughts from life in recent months}

After we sang “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” on Resurrection Sunday, a church member commented on how it had moved him and many others. I immediately felt guilty. Had I been so focused on playing the notes on the piano that I hadn’t let the words affect me?

But then I remembered the way I had played the last verse and the feeling of exhilaration that swept over me when I finished. That’s when I realized that while I may outwardly be unemotive, my response to what I read in the Word or sing in hymns or desperately pray for, and my response to trials and pressures in my life often comes out in the piano, harmonies, or soaring oboe melodies.
My face may not show it, but my emotions flow out into my music. So a few nights ago when I couldn’t focus to read or pray, I played hymn arrangements on the piano and it said all I wanted to and refreshed me at His throne.

—-

“If your eyes ever see and your ears ever hear the sin, weakness, and failure of your children, it is never a hassle, never an interruption, never an accident, it is always grace. God loves your children and has put them in a family of faith, and he will reveal the need of their hearts to you so that you can be his tool of rescue and transformation.”
– Paul Tripp, Parenting.

I wrote this quote in the cover of my notebook for this year. It’s a reminder I need every day. My kids’ sin, immaturity, or simple toddlerness is not an interruption. They’re not out to get me: they need my help. They’re not trying to ruin my day: they need guidance and training to fight their own sin. My job is not to play whack-a-mole or call instructions from the kitchen, but to fight the idols in my own heart and then come alongside them to show them what’s going on in their heart, and help us all love our Father above all else.

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when I was heading to bed the other night (alone thanks to Ezra’s LAST week of evening shifts!), first I noticed neither of us had made the bed.
But then I noticed the headboard he drove 3 hours to bring home and the towels over and nails on the curtains he added to keep the summer light out to help his wife sleep better.

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As we’ve adjusted to a smaller budget, God has assuaged my anxieties with the overabundance of summer: pears, grapes, tomatoes, plums, cucumbers, zucchini – given to us for free.

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Before it gets too late into November: our favorite Thanksgiving books. We got both of these second-hand (and two more we have that are for older kids). One at a used book store near my grandma’s house that I found two days before Thanksgiving last year when we were there for tea and looking for other books. The other came from Better World Books – we love getting books through Better World Books or Abe Books, and just recently I found out BWB has sales and coupons sometimes, so got 5 books for $20 that were all in good condition, and some of which were usually $10+ used! But we also have written them a few times to say a book that was said to be in “good” condition was barely acceptable – and they have reimbursed us every time.

And some thoughts on traditions!

Look to Jesus

I remember being in Sunday school when I was eight or nine years old. The teacher asked what faith was, and I blurted out the answer, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1.” We had just memorized it as a family, and I was proud I knew what faith was.
But until recently, I didn’t know what faith meant for the mundane struggles of my life, especially the daily grind as a mom. Does faith have anything to do with getting angry at my kids, eating more cake than I should, or wasting time on Facebook? Does an oft-repeated, little-understood definition intersect with exhausting mom life?

It does: the author of Hebrews moves us beyond a definition. He spends ten chapters proving that we will receive the salvation in Christ God has promised us. These promises, but even more our ability to come before God as His beloved children, are the “things hoped for” in Hebrews 11:1. Sarah, Abel, and the other examples in Hebrews 11 witnessed to the worth of what He promised. Their confidence that they would receive it changed how they lived.

It can change how you live, too. We are told what our lives will look like when we live with our hopes set on His promises in Hebrews 12:1-2:
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Lay aside encumbrances. Run with endurance. Look to Jesus. These are components of faith. Faith is living with the conviction that Jesus is worth more than all of the encumbrances we cast away and all of the pain we endure.

Moses exemplifies this. Hebrews 11:24-26 describes him giving up his rights as a Prince of Egypt to suffer with the people of God, because he was looking to Jesus. He laid aside the treasures of Egypt that would have hindered him from following God. He endured persecution and difficulty, because he “considered reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” Moses knew with certainty that what was coming in Christ was worth more than the vast riches and comforts of any earthly kingdom.
Likewise, we can say no to sin and lay aside distractions when we are looking to Jesus. Fix your eyes on Him – the “unseen,” rather than your “seen” circumstances. Seek satisfaction in Him, not your earthly desires.
But who is this Jesus that we are looking to as our reward?

Jesus founds our faith. Without His death on the cross atoning for our sin, we are God’s enemies. You and I deserve His judgment, not His help. We look to Him with hatred, not love and desire. Unless He makes us spiritually alive in His resurrection, we can’t see beyond what’s right in front of us to the great things He has promised.
Jesus perfects our faith. He takes it from a weak initial faith to complete dependence on and satisfaction in Him.
Jesus is our example. Even more than Moses, he laid aside encumbrances, ran with endurance, and looked to future joy. Like a runner pushing through the “hump” with her mind focused on the finish line, Jesus looked not to the pain around Him and His own wants, but to the joy set before Him. He looked ahead to His reunification with the Father. We can look ahead to the day we will see and know Him fully and receive the fullness of what has been promised.

The woman in childbirth can endure the pain when her goal is not comfort, but Jesus. The mother entertaining children on a trans-oceanic flight with long delays can be patient when her hope is in Christ, not the end of the journey. The wife in a difficult marriage can remain faithful when her joy is in her Savior, not her husband.

This is the direction of our faith, the goal of our race. Look to Jesus: the One who delivers God’s word to us, intercedes for and sympathizes with us, is a sufficient sacrifice for our full salvation, and endured suffering and temptation – the Jesus put forward by the rest of the book of Hebrews.
You can lay aside discontentment when you look at what you have in a God who will never forsake you.
You can say no to another piece of cake when you know it’s not going to satisfy you, but that God can. You can also accept it with thanksgiving, setting your hope on what your Heavenly Father thinks of you, not what the mirror reflects.
You can put down your phone when you’re not seeking the approval of men because you’re secure in Christ.
You can stop losing your temper every time your kids squash your desires if you want to please God more than you want your way.

Are there encumbrances and sins you need to lay aside? Are you running with focused endurance, or are you distracted from what really matters? Are you looking to Jesus, or are your eyes on the trials in front of you? Live by faith, with the conviction that what you will receive in the Unseen Jesus is greater than anything you could possess on this earth. He is the Son of God, worshipped by Angels, righteous ruler of a forever kingdom, partaking of flesh and blood to sympathize with our weaknesses, dying to free us from death, judgment, and slavery to sin. He completely satisfied the wrath of God so there is none left for us and gives us full access to God our Father.
How would your life change if instead of chasing after earthly desires, you lay aside encumbrances, live with focused endurance, and look to Jesus?

Empty Yourself

It’s been repeated again and again. Empty yourself. Empty yourself. Empty yourself.
It came in the midst of feeling exhausted and worn out. The message I heard from culture was “you deserve a break.”
But instead empty yourself was pounded into me again and again. Philippians. Class this semester. The life of Amy Carmichael. Tripp’s marriage book.

Empty yourself.
Like Jesus, in Philippians 2:7. Like Paul in Philippians 2:17 and 3:7-8: pouring himself out as a drink offering. Counting all as loss.

Empty yourself.
Rest, food, a clean house, happy kids, cooking without interruption are not “rights” we earn or deserve. When we treat it as such, our goal becomes “how much can I get?” not “how much can I give?”

Empty yourself.
“Lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles.” Jesus didn’t come to make your idols better. Cast them off.
“If anyone wants to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”
It’s a theme familiar to me from childhood. It’s what I come to at the end of a hard day, I was so selfish. It’s a two-fold emptying, of throwing off my sin and then pouring myself out for others. But it isn’t the full picture. If my focus is just on emptying myself, I will destroy myself and others. I need to be filled first.

And I am full.
He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ (Philippians 1:6).
Having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:11).
My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).
In Him we have redemption… forgiveness… according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us (Ephesians 1:7).

Empty yourself, you are full in Him.
Not “you can be full in Him,” but you are. I don’t need to pray “fill me,” when sapped of energy. The first chapters of Ephesians and Philippians overflow with all we have in Christ. And so we can say with Paul,
“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.”
Whatever you empty is more than replaced by Christ. Whatever you are upset about losing – your plan, your way – or whatever you are craving – time, food, silence – Christ’s worth surpasses anything you would have in them.
When we focus on our perceived “lack,” what we are really seeing is our lack of faith in Christ. We are shortsighted. Tozer writes, “Faith is occupied with the Object upon which it rests and pays no attention to itself at all.”
This is how Amy Carmichael could be “dead to all one’s natural earthly plans and hopes, dead to all voices, however dear, which would deafen our ear to His.”

In Christ we have such wealth yet we live on trash rather than enjoy the treasure of Christ and His glory. We are hungry but filling our souls on rubbish not Him. We are heavy laden but insisting on bearing our yoke alone instead of picking up His. We are tired but seeking rest in the world and not in Christ – rushing from thing to thing, losing perspective on what really matters, finding temporary fixes, distracting our fatigue with social media and coffee instead of refueling at His throne.

This doesn’t mean you don’t use earthly forms of rest beyond basic care. Paul even says, “look not ONLY to your own interests but ALSO to the interests of others.” Jesus invites His disciples to “come away and rest” after ministry (Mark 6:30-32), and He Himself went off to pray alone. How we are filled is different for each one of us. But for every one of us, nourishing our souls on the Word of God is where it starts. Cut out soul-draining noise and center your life on Him. Assess everything else through the filter of its ability to increase your love for God or share His love with others.

In our exhaustion, our Heavenly Father should be our first retreat. Feast on the fullness you have in Christ and the Father’s love. Your deepest need is not a break, but salvation. Jesus fills that. The secret to contentment is not a change in circumstance, but a change in perspective. Use the Word, prayer, and fellowship to reorient your heart. Then pour yourself out in love for others, valuing them and their interests. Empowered by the Spirit, joyful, independent of your circumstances, look away from yourself and to Him.

Empty yourself, you are full in Him.
“God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seats us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-7)

Further Reading:
A Chance to Die (Elliot)
Christ Formed in You (Hedges)
Humble Roots (Anderson)
Hello, Mornings (Lee)
Philippians
Because He Loves Me (Fitzpatrick)
What Did You Expect? (Tripp)

2018: Third Quarter Books

July
The Last Girl (Nadia Murad)
I was interested in reading this after Mindy Belz had mentioned it in a WORLD Magazine article. It’s not a book to “enjoy,” but I am very glad I read it. I learned a lot about Yazidi culture and atrocities committed by ISIS. Reading about ISIS’ evil was enraging, sickening, and horrifying. It was frustrating to read the book a year later knowing that they still have not been brought to justice. My thoughts and emotions were all over the place, from praying imprecatory Psalms, to longing for the image of God in them to be restored. His image is distorted beyond recognition by men who treat others as if they have no soul, acting soulless themselves – yet they still have an eternal soul that will be judged.
One of the most moving things was the contrast between women being treated like cattle and sold cheaply and the lives risked and thousands spent to get them back.
I wish she had written more about reentry.

True Feelings (Mahaney + Whitacre)
A friend mentioned this book a few months ago, and it sounded like a good one to read in the midst of moving. My reaction to recent moves was to shut down most emotion, but that had negative impact, so I wanted encouragement to process those feelings rightly.
I highly recommend this book for women seeking to understand the role of feelings as a Christian. They present a balance between ignoring and following feelings. Our emotions tell us what we believe and value and what is happening around us – they are reliable to tell us who we are but not what is true. Right emotion (positive or negative) stems from godly values (VS our sin’s inward bent), and are to, through, for, and from God – not how we or others think we should feel.

Mimosa (Amy Carmichael)
A friend loaned me this one. It’s the story of an Indian woman connected with Donavur in a very hard place and God’s faithfulness to her. This quote summarizes it well:
“What He did with her was good. Was He not all-powerful, so that He could direct everything? Had He not shown her by a thousand secret signs that she was love? Would she, who was only a human mother, deny one good thing to her son if she had the power to grant it? No more would He.”

Water From a Deep Well (Gerald Sittser)
For class.
At first I was uncomfortable with this book, until I saw Sittser’s writing as descriptive rather than prescriptive. Then I was able to learn from various spiritual models and draw from their wisdom. We can draw from their strengths without condoning the whole model or ignoring its faults. It was still difficult to read about models I find less-biblical without their shortcomings being addressed. But in the end, I was challenged not to draw the circle to small, admitting that while none are perfect, there are a variety of legitimate models of spirituality.
I was struck by both the diversity and unity of historic Christianity. In all of these models, men and women were seeking to value and worship God above all else. They aimed to be Christlike, living lives transformed in every area, weaned from the things of the world. All were taking His commands seriously.
I appreciated how Sittser handled the diversity: we all need to obey God, but our paths will all be different, although they have the same end. There is unity in the desire and the goal, but the way we live that out will vary. Not all are called to extreme asceticism, but all are called to take up our cross. Not all are called to missions in hard places, but all are called to take risks. Not all are called to die a martyr’s death, but all are called to daily die to self and prove His worth. These truths were reminders I needed. I also benefited from learning from the monks that my work and prayer should be affecting one another, and that while I need to be in the world, I also need to be careful not to be inundated by endless information in a way that keeps me from worship and work. This endless information can even include the deep well of Christian history: like the men and women Sittser mentions, the well I need to draw from the most is that of God Himself.

Love Has a Price Tag (Elliot)
A collection of essays, longer than but similar to Keep a Quiet Heart and Let me be a Woman. It’s Elliot’s usual no-nonsense, gentle, biblical style. A few memorable quotes:
Does prayer work? “That question assumes the results ought to be measurable. The trouble is they are not by any means always measurable or predictable because the One to whom we address our prayers is infinite and incomprehensible… and He is love. (Matthew, stone instead of bread)”
“It is always possible to be thankful for what is given rather than to complain about what is not given.”

Kissed on Arrival (Holmes)
Ezra and I read this together in the car. It’s a collection of travel stories, ranging from embarrassing to hilarious. Sometimes I was laughing so hard I couldn’t finish reading. We’ve been inspired to start writing down some of our own travel adventures. Highly recommend for a light read. The chapters are short, too, which makes it great for the car or after dinner entertainment.

Orthodoxy (Chesterton)
Orthodoxy was a fascinating read, but it wasn’t very pertinent to me right now so I didn’t take a lot of it in as much as Chesterton deserves. He makes very good arguments, and I took notes to reference later if needed, as without opportunity to exercise the information I won’t remember much. But I’m also trusting incident to recall parts to mind.
He is anti-Calvinist repeatedly, and of course, Catholic. But it is still a worthwhile read for his interactions with secularist philosophy and his mastery of words.
His comments on reducing everything to reason leading to insanity were timely reflecting on PPD and looking ahead to moves and getting too introspective trying to figure it all out. But I sometimes need to leave room for mystery.
Two favorite quotes:
“Praise should be the permanent pulsation of the soul.”
“Joy, which was the small publicity of the pagan, is the gigantic secret of the Christian.”

August
Women and God (Nielson)
Probably #2 on my list of books I read this year.
Nielson aims to help us look at His Word – not more, not less – and truly know what God/Jesus/Bible’s intent towards women is, not what people say they are.
She argues that the evils towards women in the world are where we end up without His Word. “The farther we get from God’s word, the less we know his goodness to us.”
His way isn’t the problem, sin – which leads to our distortions of His word – IS the problem. His design does not harm women, distortions of it and the results of the Fall on our bodies do.
Her goal is not to end up with empowered women or submissive wives but women worshiping God, which includes education and dignity to all women everywhere.

She writes with honesty and humility – admitting at times she doesn’t know or can’t fully answer the questions she is grappling with. Her perspective is complementarian, but she isn’t afraid to call out ways that has been misused or places complementarianism has gone astray, while also calling out culture. There is a lot about marriage and family, but her focus is on Christian women in general, and she always tries to apply scripture’s teaching to all women – like why does submission in marriage matter to unmarried women? Her style is engaging, especially her retelling of familiar passages like Genesis 1-3.

Personally, most of the content was familiar. But I was still encouraged in her discussion of creation order and the real meaning/value of “helper” (“The helper is God’s means of turning ‘not good’ into ‘very good.’”), Jesus’ care to women, walking the line and not making scripture say more or less than it says… but chapter 4, “The Darkest Places” was my favorite and answered some of my questions about the treatment of captives. It was especially striking after reading “The Last Girl” last month, and seeing again how vastly different Christianity is from ISIS (despite the way some try to portray them in the same light). I also enjoyed chapter 5 on “Strong Women” like Deborah and the response not to put down women but raise up men who can lead.

Who is it for? Anyone seeking to humbly search the Bible to understand what it says about women. Why the death penalty for adultery? Why periods? Saved through childbearing? What is descriptive and what is prescriptive? Men need to read it, too, to understand better how God wants women to be treated, and see further how our distinctions work together to build church unity. If you want my more extensive notes, just let me know. My only real disappointment is that I wish it had been more in depth!
This one looks similar but I haven’t looked at it so have no idea how it is (someone else’s review here)!

Caring for One Another (Ed Welch)
given to me by my dad, this was a timely book for moving to a new community!
It’s meant to be a group study, but was helpful to read through on my own and think about what things lead to humbly walking with others, knowing their trials and desires, and tips for bringing Christ and comfort in response.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin
I know I read this many years ago, but wanted to re-read it after other recent readings on race relations. I didn’t realize it was so long, but it was still an enlightening read.

Cranford (Gaskell)
I confess I skimmed most of this… it really didn’t hold my attention as there was no overarching plot. I did enjoy it and it was amusing, but this may be a case for me of liking the movie better than the books.

Little Men (Alcott)
I have a lot of Alcott’s books on my phone and read them in little moments… but I did skim most of this as it started to drag, though it was amusing.

These Strange Ashes (Elliot)
It was wonderful to hear more of what Elisabeth Elliot’s missions work before she was married. This and “The Savage My Kinsman” were both informative about Bible translation, which helped a lot when some Bible translators came through our church and I was able to understand better how much work goes into translation, especially when the language is previously unwritten.

Feelings and Faith (Borgman)
I skimmed this, mostly to compare it to True Feelings. Both are very good. Borgman goes into more depth about certain feelings, but less in depth about changing our feelings. It’s also more theological and less conversational, although much of the content is the same.

Conscience (Naselli and Crowley)
Another one recommended by a friend. I was mostly reading this with regard to other people I interact with, but still found it freeing for myself, understanding how much I allow other peoples’ consciences to influence me towards guilt in areas that I have been convinced of otherwise.

September
Shepherding a Woman’s Heart (Bev Hislop)
This was one for class. I felt it summarized very well the book “Preaching that Speaks to Women” in a more accessible way. Helpful thoughts on the (good!) differences between men and women and how shepherding women is different.

The Gospel and Personal Evangelism (Dever) and What is the Gospel? (Gilbert)
I had read both of these before but they were required reading for class. It was good to review the content, and they’re a good overview of both subjects.

The Breadwinner series (Ellis)
I got these via eBook and gobbled them up in a few days. I really enjoyed the first two, but by the third I was losing interest and I felt that the fourth was cheesy (mostly the interactions between Parvana and the Americans). But otherwise they were well written and engaging, and eye-opening as to life (especially for women) under the Taliban. This was especially striking after having read so much lately about the biblical view of women!

skimmed: Questions Muslims Ask (Scott) and The Gospel for Muslims (Anyabwile)
Questions Muslims Ask was reviewed in WORLD a while back and I had added it to my reading list. It’s written so it can be read by either Christians or Muslims, which is helpful as a starting point but I think that made it less effective. His portion on the Trinity was confusing in some parts, and while I think I understand what he meant I’m still not entirely sure. The Gospel for Muslims was much clearer and covered a lot of the same ground, but is written towards Christians.

in the middle of: How to Write a Sentence (Fish) and The Cost of Discipleship (Bonhoeffer)

Books I read for class that don’t really merit their own mini reviews:

(they weren’t necessarily bad but I didn’t feel that they contributed very much to my life or knowledge).
In the Company of Women (Hunter)
One to One Bible Reading (Helm)
The Master Plan of Evangelism

And for leisure I read Kitty My Rib, which is about Katharina Von Bora but it wasn’t as good as I was hoping.

KIDS:
We’re Riding on a Caravan – Barefoot Books, Krebs/Cann
Lili At Ballet
The Maggie B
Ocean Meets Sky
You Belong Here
The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge
Autumn Story
Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn
Round is a Tortilla
Are You A Dragonfly (Allen. Note: reference to millions of years in the back page facts)
Night of the Moonjellies (Shasha)
Hurry and the Monarch
Miss Spider’s Tea Party

4 Tips For Insomnia

I sleep better when my babies aren’t sleeping through the night (here meaning a full night’s rest of 11-12 hours, not the 5-6 hour stretch sometimes referred to as sleeping through the night). Of course, I’m sleep deprived in the first few months. But once they’re waking up once or twice to nurse and going right back to sleep, that’s when I wake up in the morning rested, have energy through the day, and fall asleep easily.
The first few months of Ellie sleeping twelve hours without needing me, I figured my sleep trouble was just me adjusting. But insomnia is still a problem a year later. It comes and goes, and I am never up all night, so I know it isn’t as bad as it is for some people. Yet the fatigue that follows still affects my daily life, especially this summer when I had a stretch of two months without a good night’s sleep.
Before kids, I would try to sleep in or rest in the morning (afternoon naps make my nights even worse), but now I can’t. I have found other things that can help.

1. Sleep Hygiene. In the Internet age most people who have difficulty sleeping will know this, but it should still be said: blocking out light. Winding down before bed. Room temperature. Cutting out caffeine. They often seem so simple and silly, but they really do make a difference. My two-month stretch of poor sleep in the summer was at least partially due to longer days. Even with blackout curtains, light was still seeping in and making me restless.

2. Natural Remedies. I don’t know of much besides chamomile and lavender, but they can be helpful nonetheless.

3. Minimize exertion. On days when I’m exhausted, I do what I can to rest. Exercise helps me sleep better, but I go for a light walk instead of doing an interval workout. I cut down on dishes where I can. We read instead of playing (or play instead of reading if my eyes are too tired!). Ezra does more of the dishes and handles more of the discipline when he’s home.

4. Don’t dwell on it. This is what helps me the most. When I’m tired, it’s so easy to fall into a pity party, which contributes to the lack of desire to do anything. The verse is overquoted, but true, that His grace is sufficient, and His power made perfect in our weakness. While I don’t know what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was, I’ve come to see my difficulty sleeping as similar. I know He could take it away and let me sleep like Ezra does (anytime, anywhere), but He doesn’t. So I am learning to not focus on my fatigue but look away from myself and draw my strength from Him, where it really lies all the time. This mostly means thinking more about what is true about Him than about how I feel. It also includes prayer, crying out to Him for the help and strength I don’t have, and telling Him my irritations instead of taking it out on others or complaining. Fatigue may make me more prone to crabbiness, and while knowing that helps me know I’m not going backwards in sanctification, it isn’t an excuse.

I have some ideas as to what’s going on when I don’t sleep well, but until it stops will keep seeking to apply these four things… and continue to pray while I toss and turn, or my occasional 11 PM reading sessions after tossing and turning for an hour. Or maybe I need to try waking myself up for five minutes at 2 AM as if I had a nursing baby again. 😉

2018: September

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One of the best things about summer is the overflow of produce in other people’s gardens that ends up in our hands: tomatoes, pears, zucchini, plums… such abundance and deliciousness!

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We aren’t doing any formal school with S but I have wanted to add more structure to our day and get her used to me choosing some more of the books.

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A friend took us to the zoo. The girls loved the monkeys and seals but they also liked the slugs.

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Celebrating our favorite 2 year old with chocolate peanut butter cupcakes with peanut butter frosting and chocolate peanut butter ice cream. Ellie was thrilled.

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We (mostly Ezra) cleared a spot for next year’s garden.

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Using up some of the free tomatoes. Thank you, Pioneer Woman for this deliciousness.

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A scene from Fancy Nancy that sums up our girls pretty well.

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Pattypan squash and zucchini… and dahlias were 5/$1 at the roadside stand that frequently has free zucchini.

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This book is stunning.

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The purple circle with lines is apparently Humpty Dumpty.

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A good book… and an ER visit. Thankfully all was well.

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Attempt at a pain d’epi wreath… the dough wasn’t great though. It was tomato basil and used tomato paste. Next time I would use tomato juice.

memorization// Here is Love // Ephesians 3:14-21

favorite recipes// oatmeal sourdough muffins (I cut back on the honey and they were still very sweet for me!) // walnut and rye sourdough loaf (I added 5g anise seed and some dried figs) // pickles // vegan peanut butter fudge // pear butter // spiced pear baked oatmeal // Persian plum soup // no knead sourdough bread // clam chowder (the best if you add some dill!) //

best of online//  let’s get real about women’s discipleship // do Christians have to care about everything? // statement on social justice // Chinese treatment of Uighur people // Tubby the Tuba with DANNY KAYE // crown crochet pattern // sing Solfa (for children) // surviving seminary as a family // Michael Card has a podcast!!! // three questions to ask before you take (my) advice // Rossini Duet for Two Cats // is social justice a gospel issue? // Jasmine stitch // sakura on classical guitar //

reading of late// In the Company of Women (Hunter) // Shepherding a Woman’s Heart (Hislop) // One to One Bible Reading (Helm) // The Gospel and PErsonal Evangelism (Dever) // God is the Gospel (Gilbert) // Kitty, My Rib // The Breadwinner series (Ellis) // skimmed: Questions Muslims Ask (Scott) and The Gospel for Muslims (Anyabwile) // in the middle of: How to Write a Sentence (Fish) and The Cost of Discipleship (Bonhoeffer)
The first half of the semester is always lots of reading!

thinking about// someone posted something on Facebook about September feeling like three days. It felt like three months to me. This move has been a big change in a lot of ways, all of it good change, but it’s still taken adjusting and learning. Relationships take time but I need them desperately, and their slowness does not mean I am failing. Jesus, not an exciting day, needs to be what gets me out of bed in the morning. His love is bigger than any despair and depression. // 1 Thessalonians: living a sober quiet life resting on His unconditional love, turning from idols to the true and living God, because of His love (not “shoulds”) // diffusing strife with a gentle answer // rejoice always: Christ has saved you. Pray without ceasing: the Spirit indwells you. Give thanks in all circumstances: the Father’s love is lavish //

what brings joy// birthdays // reconnecting with old friends // His abundant provision // engaging novels // quiet days // finding rhythm //

The Munchkins// Ellie turned 2! She is mischievous and snuggly, and keeps us on our toes!
Favorite foods: peanut butter, pasta, chocolate, tomatoes, snap peas, cucumber, ca-yke (cake). Generally not a fan of most fruit or sweets.
Favorite things: balls, cars, stuffed animals, cats and dogs, babies, Papa, Uncles, and Grandpa
Favorite books: Zin Zin Zin A Violin, God’s Very Good Idea
Favorite activities: eating (she melts in a puddle if we tell her no or eat in front of her when she doesn’t have food), climbing, playground, dancing, singing.